May 24, 2019 - Politics & Policy

DNC, NBC to divide top Dem candidates between 2 nights

The 2016 Democratic presidential debate

The "NBC News - YouTube Democratic Candidates Debate" on Sunday, January 17, 2016 at the Gaillard Center Theatre in Charleston, SC. Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee and NBC have reached an agreement to evenly split the top qualifying candidates over 2 nights for the first 2020 Democratic primary debate in June, reports Politico.

The bottom line: The DNC wants to avoid featuring a "kiddie table," by spreading the most popular contenders across the 2 nights, addressing a problem Republicans ran into in 2016, per Politico. The decision also aims to maintain viewer interest by guaranteeing well-known contenders are debating on both nights.

How it works: The rule says: "the final list of debate participants (after any tie-breaking procedure is executed, if necessary) will be divided into two groups: candidates with a polling average of 2% or above, and those with a polling average below 2%. Both groups will be randomly divided between Wednesday night and Thursday night thus ensuring that both groups are represented fairly on each night," per Politico.

Candidates polling at 2% or more:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O'Rourke

Go deeper: Which 2020 candidates have qualified for the debates

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